Daniel: Welcome to “The Future Adjustment: Chiropractic Economics” podcast series on what’s new and notable in the world of Chiropractic. I’m Daniel Sosnoski, the Editor-in-Chief of Chiropractic Economics. And our guest today is Jamey Schrier. He’s a physical therapist, and a coach and trainer for PTs and chiropractors who want to establish successful practices. He’s also the creator of the Practice Freedom Method, a training program for DCs who wanna regain control of their lives and experience more fulfillment and practice. We’ve asked Jamey to join us today to describe the kind of coaching and training he’s been conducting and how he developed this route to a successful practice management. Welcome, Jamey, and thanks for joining me.
Jamey: Oh, thanks, Daniel. I appreciate you having me.
Daniel: All right. Well, hey, just to kick things off, I understand that your story really takes a key turn in the year 2004 when you encountered problems in your physical therapy practice?
Jamey: Yeah, you can say that. Actually, you know, when I started my practice in 2001, like most people, I was just excited to just do my own thing and just be like, “You know what? I’ve been in the school, I learned this stuff.” I worked for someone for a little bit. I’m like, “I wanna do my own thing.” And things were awesome. It was my…my wife was at the front desk. I was treating the patients and life was great. And then about 18 months to 2 years, it started to turn…I don’t know. I started to feel some anxiety and anxiousness. And this one fun thing started to turn into, I was actually involved in a business. I was in the business of treating people, not just the person treating them. And it started to kind of take a different turn.
And, lo and behold, out of the blue, I’m coming back from, like, a very short two-day getaway, which was very rare at that time with my wife and I and my son, and I got a call. And the call was from my father-in-law and he goes, “Jamey, I think your building’s on fire.”
Daniel: Oh, no.
Jamey: And I turned to my wife and I go, “I hope it’s my suite and I hope it burns to the ground.” And the reason I say that, I mean, obviously I’ve gotten over it, but the reason I said that is because I started to look at the future of where I was going in my practice and how many hours I was working and how much money I was making or not making, and I realized that this was gonna continue to happen over and over again until something changed. And I feel like this fire was like a welcome excuse to kinda re-evaluate and re-assess what exactly am I doing in this business, where am I going with this, and you know, how am I gonna get there? So that fire was a huge turning point for me, and for my life, and for my family as well.
Daniel: Wow. That’s pretty dramatic. I know for most people, you know, having a hard drive crash on you is a pretty significant event, but having your practice burn down, that must have been a considerable hard reset for you in business. And so, then you went on to spend a certain amount of…well, a great deal of time and money working on an analysis of what had been kinda going wrong and how you would have been able to turn it around. Can you tell me a little about that?
Jamey: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, just like when we’re working with a patient, when they come in, we start asking them questions and really getting an idea of what’s going on with them and then we start doing some assessments and then come up with a plan. It gave me kind of a time to sit back and re-evaluate and saying, “Okay, what do I want?” And I became clear in I wanted a practice that could run at least somewhat without me having to do everything. I love treating, I spend so much time and money learning my craft, but I started to look at all the other things that were on my plate that I was doing that was just, you know, administrative crap.
So, I was like, “Well, how do I build this business of physical therapy?” And I started to invest tons of hours, lots of money learning from anyone and anybody within my profession, outside of my profession, within business, and I invested hundreds of thousands of dollars literally taking programs, hiring coaches, mentors, consultants to help me do this. And it wasn’t easy to do. And, you know, you say you learn by making mistakes. Well, I must have learnt a lot because I made literally every mistake possible again, and again, and again. But, you know, what I ended up doing is creating a kind of a method, a way to create a business that’s, even though it’s small, it operates in a way that gives you some flexibility and choice. And that’s pretty magical.
Daniel: Yeah. That’s probably, I guess, where you get the word freedom in your method, is you kind of detaching people from the things that they feel are holding them down or burdening them. So, when you are working with other DC’s, what are some of the most common problems that you see doctors having in their practices today? What kind of things are they telling you? And what kind of things are you seeing?
Jamey: Yeah. Daniel, the number one thing I see is for the typical doc that has a, you know, a small practice, it’s really just them, they’re providing the treatment, they may have one or two people helping them out, may have a CA kinda handling the phones and helping them with the backend stuff, or they may have someone else. They may even have a PT on there, a physical therapist helping them as well. But the biggest challenge that I see, and I talked to a lot of them, is this idea of letting go. Because the reality is we, you know, we’re smart people. I mean, if you weren’t the top of your class and you weren’t getting lots of A’s and did well on tests, then you’re not gonna get in to school and you’re not gonna be successful.
But the challenge is, if you’re doing everything yourself because you don’t trust other people or because there isn’t any kind of system or process in place, or because you’re just used to it, it’s just a habit that you’ve created because you’re used to doing everything yourself because it only relied on you to do well, when you’re in that situation, and that was a situation for me for many years, you get trapped and your time starts getting sucked from everywhere. And you start running around. You’re treating, you’re documenting, you’re doing all this other stuff. You’re trying to market, trying to build relationships, and your staff just doesn’t work at their optimal level. So, letting go, and not just letting go and putting your crap on someone else’s plate, but letting go with clarity, letting go by allowing and giving direction to the people that will be doing these other jobs. And if you do that, you free up time which gives you just more freedom, more just mind space to focus on some other areas of the business that absolutely you should be doing.
Daniel: Yeah. You know, I think it was in about the mid-1990s, one of the emergent themes in modern management. It was called management by objectives and it was an attempt to get business owners away from the micromanaging mindset where they had to keep their fingers, you know, on all the pieces of pie. And the concept was you give your staff an overall vision of where you’re trying to go and what you want them to accomplish, you give them the tools to carry out those missions and then you get out of the way and let them use their own creativity to solve those problems and meet those challenges. And when that works well, when you communicate your vision and you get buy-in, you’ll find that the business can perform astonishingly well, as well as freeing you up with the mental resources to do things like higher level marketing and networking and the things that will ultimately grow your business.
So, hey, from your Practice Freedom Method, the seminars that you’re giving and the educational materials that you’re putting together and sharing with the people that you’re gathering, you know, into your tribe. If anybody is listening to this podcast wants to try implementing a couple of approaches that you’ve found successful and maybe get started with their own turnaround and practice rescue, what are some first steps they might wanna take?
Jamey: Yeah. Well, what you said before about this management by statistics or management by objectives is so true. And, you know, in order to do that, you just mentioned that, well, you have to have a vision. I mean, what is a vision? A vision is where your practice, where your company is gonna be sometime in the future. Because if you don’t have that vision, then no one can buy in, and that’s a thing that I hear from docs all the time. They don’t buy in to what we’re doing. I feel like I’m on an island by myself and everyone’s just kind of watching me. And one of the reasons they don’t buy in, because they don’t know what they’re buying into. They’re just working day in and day out collecting a pay check, but there’s no bigger purpose and no bigger meaning that’s a part of your business.
So, the first thing to do is just jot down what it is, or you can record yourself. Just what is your business about? What is it you’re trying to do? Where is it you’re trying to go? Are you trying to expand? Do you wanna have, you know, a multidisciplinary clinic? Do you wanna have other associates? Do you wanna have like PT? Do you wanna sell supplements? I mean, what are you trying to do here? Are you looking to expand to other locations? Because that’s gonna tell a story to the people that you’re hiring and the people that are working for you. So getting clear about that which is, you know, sounds easy but it’s not necessarily easy because you really have to think. And so many times, we’re in this mode of doing. We’re doing, we’re doing, we’re doing. We can never stop doing. We don’t just get time to just chill out and just be, and just think about what it is that we want. Because as entrepreneurs, we make stuff up. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re making this up and then we’re gonna make it happen and make it true. So first thing, vision. Set something up.
Next thing, obviously sharing that with your team. But a couple of specific things you can do is go ahead and list, let’s say, three to five activities or tasks on your plate right now and pick ones that you don’t like. I call them low-energy activities. Things that you don’t particularly like, you don’t necessarily have a great skill for, they’re kind of these mundane. If you say the words like, “I don’t mind doing this,” trust me, it’s a low energy activity or things you just absolutely hate, and give them to somebody. Allow somebody…I love this word, allow, Daniel. Allow someone to do this. Give them some direction as what you want, give them an idea of at the end of this thing, whatever it is.
For me, one of the first things I turned over was just answering the phones. I was in this habit of answering the phone all the time even though I hired a full-time person at the front desk to answer my phones. And it was just a crappy habit I had. And so I finally went to her and I said, “Look, you know, I’m not gonna answer the phones anymore. However, what I don’t want is the phones to ring after the second ring.” So what can we do when you leave your job at the front and, let’s say, go to the bathroom or if you’re not there, what can we do? So then she started to figure out, “Well, how about this, how about we forward the phones to the back and the aid can answer them, and I’ll train the aid how to do it.” And I was like, “Works for me.”
Guess what, just by not doing that and not, you know, affecting my, you know, brain power and worrying about the phones, we fixed the problem. I got some time back. She felt more empowered to do her job because she hated when I answered the phone and did her job for her. So, it sounds simple but when you start to do that for activity after activity, you start to exponentially get back time and start using your time for something else that’s more meaningful and worthwhile. But what you also do is you start to slowly empower your team to do the job well. And that’s the key here. The key is getting these things off your plate, allowing your team to do them, give them a little direction, let them do ’em, let them make mistakes, mentor them, and move forward.
Daniel: Gotcha. Yeah, as you were going through that and explaining it, the words delegation and empowerment were really just coming right to the front of my mind. I can see exactly what you’re talking about. And so many of the thought leaders who write for our magazine touch on these ideas, and it’s really nice to see how you’ve gathered them together in a really coherent way. Hey, before I let you go, are there any new directions that you’re heading right now? Are there any new avenues that you’re exploring in your business?
Jamey: Yeah. I mean, one of the things that I do to work with people is we have a program called the Foundations Program. And what it does is it gives people the foundation of building their business. So there’s four parts to this foundation. There’s management, which is time management from the owner and delegation and building your team. There’s money, dealing the financial aspects and financial dashboards and metrics, key performance indicators. And there is, of course, marketing, developing relationships, building referrals. And then the last one, which I believe is the most important, is mindset. Really having this mindset as you’re a business owner who happens to also be a doctor who delivers the care. So you gotta have that mindset of the business owner not just the mindset of that.
So we have a program that takes people through this process and teaches them this foundation which has been very powerful. And what we’ve recently launched is, you know, a lot of people that come into this program say, “Okay, this is great. This is helping me but I’m having trouble putting this in place because some of my management team is not able to do it the way that you’re saying it can be done.”
So we launched the program called the Lighthouse Connection which, you know, teaches the management team of the doctors and the owners of the same principles and the same things but it looks at it from their perspective. So it really aligns and helps gel the communication between the owner and the team towards the vision. And it’s something that’s brand new and we’re starting, and it’s gonna be really powerful. So those are a couple of big things that we’re working on to help with people. Other than that, you know, I’m really just getting out there and sharing this message and sharing this word knowing that, “Hey, I’ve done this. I’ve been, you know, in healthcare for 22 years and I own the practice. Two locations, 15 people for 15 years, so, you know, I know what it’s like and I’ve made all these mistakes and it doesn’t have to be like that. And that’s really the message that I’m sharing is, “Hey, just choose freedom, and freedom is a choice. Just have a choice in how you wanna run and build your practice.”
Daniel: All right. Well, that’s really informative and I wanna thank you so much for spending this time with us today, Jamey. And you’ve given us an empowering look at the future adjustment. I’m Dan Sosnoski, we’ll see you next time. Take care.